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The New Politics of Experience and The Bitter Herbs

The New Politics of Experience and The Bitter Herbs

Theodor Itten
Ron Roberts

ISBN 978 1 906254 74 2 ( 2014)

Cover Price £18.00

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Read the Preface here

The New Politics of Experience and The Bitter Herbs by Theodor Itten and Ron Roberts critiques the practices of psychotherapy and psychology and asks searching questions about the neoliberal motives that drive them. Theorising of the human condition too often follows the ideological fashions of the day, which could currently be described as biological/corporate fundamentalism. This toxic mixture not only mystifies the general public but also makes epistemological slaves of professional psychologists. As neoliberal capitalism continues its forward march, this book considers its influence on the divide between academic psychology and the psychotherapeutic art of healing, and considers how the relationship between the practical and academic sides of psychology has become so deeply problematic as well as dishonest. Itten and Roberts' book constitutes a call  for a return to a new, authentic and vibrant Politics of Experience.

Part One: Experience

Chapter One: Beginnings

Chapter Two: Where do we come from? Origins and visions

Chapter Three: What do we do in psychotherapy?

Chapter Four: Playing: Theory and praxis

Chapter Five: Therapeutic compassion

Part Two: Method

Chapter Six: Sanity, memory and the social

Chapter Seven: Feminism, madness and the family

Chapter Eight: The politics of memory: Field notes from an urban anthropologist

Part Three: Truth

Chapter Nine: The politics of truth in psychotherapy

Chapter Ten: Psychology: Individuals, morality and ideology

Chapter Eleven: The new politics of experience

Chapter Twelve:Where do we go from here?

The Bitter Herbs

Read Brian Evans' review in the International Journal of Psychotherapy here

Read Dr Brent Potter's review in the New York Journal of Books here

Read Colin Feltham's review from TherapyToday.net here

To have two such differing approaches to a subject that is much discussed these days struck me as clever, original, and totally intriguing.  Itten and Roberts present their experience based on different perspectives, and their contrasting views are new and dynamic, insuring that something exciting is in store for readers in the fields of psychotherapy and psychology.
Deirdre Bair, author of Simone de Beauvoir’s and C. G. Jung’s biographies, and winner of The National Book Award for “Beckett – A Biography”.

Itten and Roberts combine intriguing personal stories and incisive analysis to help us understand how Psychology and Psychotherapy have become largely disconnected from real life. The New Politics of Experience’ is distressing and illuminating in equal measure, but also, at times, extremely entertaining.
Professor John Read, Liverpool University and co-editor of ‘Models of Madness’ 

My compliments to Theodor Itten and Ron Roberts for their timely continuation of R. D. Laing’s lifelong endeavour, which was to establish psychotherapy as a study of situations and not just of his victims and with the therapist as being both a part of and apart from them. They enlarge upon Laing’s work, by including themselves in the picture, along with the many Big Brothers who control our behaviour, and of course the art of psychotherapy. Laing would be proud of them.
Francis Huxley, Social Anthropologist and author of Affable Savages: An Anthropologist among the Urubu Indians of Brazil; The Invisibles: Voodoo Gods in Haiti.

Theodor Itten

Theodor Itten

Theodor Itten is a Psychotherapist UKCP and Clinical Psychologist MBPS in private practice. He was an apprentice of psychoanalyst R.D. Laing and a student of Social Anthropologist Francis Huxley. From 1972–1981, was educated in Social Science, Psychology, Anthropology and Philosophy in the UK (Middlesex University and City University) and trained in psychoanalytical psychotherapy with the Philadelphia Association, London. He is a past President of the Swiss Psychotherapeutic Association and until recently Executive Editor of the International Journal of Psychotherapy.  He is co-editor of R.D.Laing: 50 years since The Divided Self (2012, PCCS Books) and author of RAGE-Managing an Explosive Emotion (2011 Libri Publishing);  Jähzorn (2007) and  Jack Lee Rosenberg (2002). He currently lives in Hamburg and St. Gallen. Visit his website at http://www.ittentheodor.ch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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Ron Roberts

Ron Roberts

Ron Roberts is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. He has held posts at the Institute of Psychiatry, University of Westminster, King’s College Medical School, University College London, St Bartholomew’s Medical School, Kingston University and the Tavistock Institute. For several years he was a member of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS) and edited and regularly contributed to their magazine 'Science for People'. He is recently (and happily) retired and freer to think outside the constraints of contemporary neoliberal academic life. His research interests include; the lure of the sex industry for students, social and collective memory and the politics of psychology. He is currently researching the concept of the off-modern and the possibilities this offers for a genuinely humane and multidisciplinary psychology. He has edited and written six books including for PCCS - Just War: Psychology and terrorism (2007), Real to Reel: Psychiatry at the cinema (2011) and with Theodor Itten, The New Politics of Experience and The Bitter Herbs (2014).   His most recent book Psychology and Capitalism (Zero Books) – though not published by PCCS is definitely worth a mention J  Besides these interests Ron has practised martial arts (kung fu) for many years.

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